Archive: “you’re so strong”; strong-shaming the bereaved

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“you’re so strong”; strong-shaming the bereaved

Heavy waves on a sunny day on the shores of North Lake Tahoe (Miranda Hernandez)

Scripts for Bereaved Parents

When I was new in my grief, there were a number of situations where people said or did something and I wanted to respond, but I just didn’t have the words. Now that I am further out, I have put together a set of potential scripts to use in these situations.

Statement: You're so strong. Response: Inside I am dying.

“You’re so strong”

How do you respond to the phrase, “You’re so strong” when you feel like you’re anything but? People tell me I’m strong, but I feel like I’m dying inside.

Peanut's feet with Adrian's Elephant (Miranda Hernandez)

First

People sometimes ask me if my daughter is my first child. I needed a simple way to tell them I had a child before her, but he died. When people ask me now, I have a simple response.

Sunset on the California Coast

“Strong”

Many people told me I was “strong” when I was deep in grief. I think it’s meant as a compliment. It doesn’t help, though. I don’t FEEL strong. I feel broken. This life isn’t a choice I made, like running a marathon or getting a PhD. It isn’t something I prepared for and overcame. It simply happened.

Amy Anne sitting on Miranda's bed, next to Adrian's ultrasound photos, Miranda's pregnant belly in the background (Modern Lux Photography)

The Story of Amy Anne

I still wonder, now, if Amy knew what was coming. She was already pretty attached to me. It was hard to say for sure. She and Saki liked to cuddle around my big belly on the couch at night. Some nights I would sleep there. Life seemed pretty good.

A Letter from the In-Between (Write Your Grief) | overlaid on image of Miranda staring off into the distance (Synch Media)

28 Jul 2018 – A Letter from the In-Between

I’m not actively suicidal, but this is the beginning. This is the in-between stage; this is where it starts. This is what it looks like when someone is crying out in pain and the entire world tells her, “You’re strong; you’re fine…Simply because I’ve decided you’re not allowed to be anything else.”

Driftwood log on the shore of Nukoli'i Beach park, Kaua'i, Hawai'i (Miranda Hernandez)

Not Fucking Fair

I feel more attuned now, to tragedy. It’s easier to recognize. I know there are things I should say. I should be present and strong. I would never ask someone in tragedy to be strong.

Miranda on the California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

28 May 2018 – Planet Miranda

I didn’t ask to live here. I loved Sunshine. I had so many plans. I built my peaceful house there. But my key doesn’t fit.

Lakeside in Incline Village 3

14 Feb 2018 – I love you. Please.

There was a time when I was broken. (I’m still broken). There was a time when I struggled to get out of bed. (I still struggle to get out of bed). There was a time when all of this was so much harder / more immediate. There was a time when I needed help with almost everything. But not all things. I still remembered how to eat and go to the bathroom. I still knew how to put on my own clothes.

Sunset over the California desert, with highway signs in the distance (Miranda Hernandez)

1 Feb 2018 – Photos

In the black-and-white photos, he looks like he’s sleeping. Photos are difficult; they don’t tell the whole story.

Wildflowers and Adrian's Elephant

On Sunlight and Strength

I am a weed. They say I am strong, but I do not aim to be so. I don’t aim to be anything. I’m just here.

Cherry blossoms in Victoria, British Columbia (Miranda Hernandez)

Dear Pregnant Woman in My Office

Dear pregnant woman in my office – people are starting to get excited. They threw you a baby shower, and things are starting to feel very familiar. I wish I could explain why I’ve started to dislike you. I wish there were some logic beyond jealously and pain. 

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